alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs
Pain is a critical factor in deciding whether
your pet has a quality of life or not. However,
pain might be a difficult thing for
the owners to realize. I have discussed the top
signs of pain previously (panting, reluctance to
exercise, changes in behavior, hiding, crying) but
what I want to focus in this column is in how can
we control pain without any pharmacological
agents. There are multiple new modalities that
can be used to control both acute and chronic
pain. The importance of this is that painkilling
drugs act very well for acute inflammation but
when it comes to chronic pain, the side effects
of these drugs often times could result in organ
damage. How can we then access your pet’s
body pharmacy of endogenous neurochemicals
involved in healing, and pain control?
cold laser therapy
The first and most common modality in
veterinary medicine is Cold laser therapy. Cold
Laser can have pain relieving and also enhanced
healing effects. Some of those effects include
painkiller, anti-inflammation, anti-swelling,
improved circulation, faster wound healing, and
enhanced repairing of damaged tendons and
ligaments. There is mounting scientific evidence
in a myriad of published studies regarding the
efficacy and safety of laser therapy.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation aka
TENS units are also being used in animals. They
operate on the principle of electrical stimulation
of the sensory nerves. This results in pain relief
and muscle strengthening.
Meet the Doctor
There are small pads that are placed either above
and below the injury or around the joint treated.
In long-haired dogs, the spots might need to be
shaved for better contact. There is ample research
that proves the efficacy of TENS in humans and
plenty of evidence of its mechanism of action.
Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy
is a fairly new modality in the veterinary world.
The invention of the Assisi loop device and the
incursion of the German-engineered PEMF
device called the BEMER have brought a lot of
hope to many veterinarians and pet owners alike.
In our practice, we have seen the effects of the
Bemer and just added the Assisi loop treatments
to our tough acupuncture cases. The premise of
this technology is that the electromagnetic waves
stimulate microcirculation, the benefits of better
blood circulations are plentiful and necessary for
In a canine osteoarthritis study comparing a
once a day PEMF treatment for 20 days to 5 mg/
kg of firocoxib ( a common NSAID) once daily,
both groups had significant improvement in
pain and functionality during the study. The
differences were observed after the treatment
ended:. Clinical signs returned for the dogs in the
firocoxib group shortly after the therapy ended
whereas the beneficial effects of PEMF in both
pain relief and functional activity capacity were
sustained through the 12-month study!
Ask your veterinarian how to make your pet pain
free but remember that an integrative approach
is usually the best choice.
Mitsie Vargas is an author and owner of
Orchid Springs Animal Hospital. She was
named FVMA’s Veterinarian of the Year.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, @
osahvets on Twitter or her Facebook page.
Orchid Springs Animal al Hospital
615 Overlook Drive